Above & Beyond
by Fonda Cox, Directory of Development & Marketing for Education

This year May 7th is National Teacher Appreciation day. The National Education Association describes National Teacher Day as "a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives." In the Oregon Conference daily we have over 180 teachers in 32 schools, making a positive difference in the lives of our students.

Teachers routinely give of their personal time and resources, way beyond what is required, to make their classroom the best learning environment they can possibly provide for their students. Though we may be aware of some of those kinds of sacrifices, we aren’t always aware of the extent to which our teachers go to show children the love of Jesus. They don’t give to be acknowledged; they give because they love their students and can’t imagine doing anything else.

One day a teacher noticed that two of her students, a brother and sister, were mentally crashing around 10:00 a.m. every day. The students would spend the next two hours desperately trying to focus on classwork while frequently asking, "Is it time for lunch yet?" The next week, the teacher quietly spoke with the children, who lived close enough to the school that they walked every day, and told them that if they would show up a half hour before school started she would have a hot breakfast waiting for them. Over the next several months, with the assistance of the church community service which provided some of the food, that teacher prepared a hot meal for those two students. When asked why she came in early every day to do this, the teacher simply replied, “They were hungry and needed my help.”

With worn clothing that was too small and holes in her shoes, a little first grader tried to fit in. When sharing time came at school she would talk about wanting a new dress. One day a month or so later, a very large box arrived at the school with the little girl’s name on it. After school the teacher quietly presented the little girl with the box. Inside were three newly handmade dresses, new socks, a new pair of shoes, plus some hair ribbons and bows. Tears were in the little girl’s eyes as she danced in excitement. Only a few people, the people involved, ever knew the whole story of how that teacher had traced all her student’s feet for an art project, so she could discover the shoe size of the little girl, or how she had measured everyone’s height while taking extra care to mark off where the little girl’s knees, waist and shoulders were, before sending fabric, purchased with her own money, to a tailor friend who designed and sewed those three dresses.

Teachers, we know you sacrifice above and beyond because you love and care for your students. We know you don’t ask for praise or recognition, and for the most part no one knows about your acts of kindness. Today we offer a prayer of strength for you, and we know that someday in Heaven you will see those shining faces you taught, because you took the time to see a need and fill it. Thank you for being a shining example of Jesus and His love.